Former Staten Island prison to become a film lot
By Aaron Short - New York Post
February 18, 2014 | 3:36pm
The big house is ready for its close-up.
A Brooklyn-based studio will convert a defunct Staten Island prison into a sprawling film and TV production complex — which will become the country’s second largest outside of Hollywood.
Greenpoint’s Broadway Stages won a bid from the state to buy the former Arthur Kill Correctional Facility for $7 million and spend $20 million to build five sound stages with 100,000 square feet of studio space on the 69-acre site.
State officials say the plan will generate 800 jobs over the next two years and as many as 1,500 jobs over the next five years.
“This big expansion of Broadway Stages is going to make film production move from the West Coast to the West Shore — of Staten Island,” Empire State Development Commissioner Kenneth Adams said.
The Cuomo administration closed seven prisons, including the medium-security Arthur Kill, in 2011, saving taxpayers about $184 million.
State Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-SI), who led the push to redevelop the site, said he was impressed by the Broadway Stages proposal.
“I’ll trade a prison for a film studio any day,” he said. “We see jobs migrating from the West Coast to the East Coast, so there really is no better place to be doing this.”
It is the film industry’s second significant expansion in New York City in the past six months.
The Post reported last July that Steiner Equities president Doug Steiner invested $85 million to add 150,000 square feet to Steiner Studios’ production-related resources to support its sound stages at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Broadway Stages president Gina Argento envisions luring blockbuster productions that have spurned New York for Hollywood and Toronto to her Staten Island site.
She wants to begin filming there within six months.
“We can do different kinds of shows, more shows with stunts and more shows with outdoor exterior shots,” she said. “We anticipate using the surrounding landscape and all that greenery. Hopefully we can build some sets outdoors.”
Staten Island has served as a backdrop to a number of iconic movies, including “The Godfather,” “Goodfellas” and “Annie Hall,” but few New Yorkers associate it with Hollywood glamour.
“If I blindfolded you and put you in Raritan Bay, you’d think you were in San Diego,” Lanza said.